Property Rental Marketplace

Sped up the platform performance by 90%

A real estate rental platform is a luxury apartment rental service located in the UK.  The idea of the platform was invented back in 2015 but a finally formed project started its realization only in 2020.

 

Location: UK
Industry: Real Estate

Product: Rental marketplace

The scope of our work: Front-End, Back-End, QA

Client Goal:

The client’s goal was to expand the functionality of the existing MVP with a set of unique features while maintaining the current version of the product. 

Having conducted a thorough analysis of the product, we detected a set of essential issues with the platform. Together with the client, we decided to conduct code refinements, fixes, and an overhaul of the major user features, and then add the new functionality.

Implemented Features
Calendar

The real estate rental platform offers its customers two user roles:

  • experts (people who rent their accommodations to travelers)
  • users (people who rent these accommodations to stay there)


Therefore
, calendars for both user roles should function in accordance with each other to display the correct information for both hosts and guests, to avoid such issues as double-bookings.

Experts can use the calendar to:

  • see the dates that are already booked
  • observe information about a guest (name, email, phone number)
  • block particular dates or change the prices (for example, set higher prices for holidays or vacation periods)

 

Customers can use the calendar to:

  • check an accommodation’s availability
  • see the prices for an accommodation
  • book an accommodation

 

The calendar feature can be displayed in two ways: as a large calendar, or a smaller pop-up calendar.

 

Working on the calendar feature, we upgraded it with additional features:

 

  • Price option within calendar: experts can see or change prices right inside the calendar
  • Ability to book dates in the morning or evening
  • Make both calendars start from the same weekday
  • Restrict bookings that last less than one day
Admin panel

Another important feature that needed some improvements was the admin panel.

Usually, at Sloboda, we implement ready-made solutions to reduce the cost to the customer, but we could not do this here – there were no existing solutions with the requested functionality. So our developers created customized solutions using React. 

The admin panel can also control validation, cancellations, change credit notes and money rewards, adjust rates and discounts.

As a result, the interaction between platform and users has become more convenient, and it has become easier to interact with landlords.

Messages

Sloboda Studio’s developers also upgraded the message feature: customers can communicate with the preferred owners in secure and private chats. For example, guests can use this feature to clarify any accommodation details.

Custom default mail-out

When the admin panel was done, we developed a custom mailing function regulated with the help of the platform.

Our team added the ability for admins to create personalized newsletters for renters before check-ins and after check-outs and any necessary information for property owners.

Discounts

This feature is regulated with the help of the admin panel and makes it possible for admins to specify the percentage for the discount.

Map

Another important feature for real estate rental websites is a map search.

When we started working with this rental platform, we decided to fix and expand the map functionality. 

We fixed the integration between accommodation ads and maps. Currently, the location of the accommodation is displayed on the map when the customer starts to review the accommodation’s page. Allowing a view of the location makes it more convenient for guests to choose a place to stay.

Apartment creation

The key goal was to provide customers with detailed information about the accommodation they are going to rent.

property rental marketplace

Apartment Page

 

We upgraded the apartment creation feature with such steps as: 

  • ability to upload photos of an apartment, a description, the type of accommodation (house, apartment, etc.)
  • availability of cleaning, number of rooms, 
  • accessibility of amenities, parking, and other details

 

We also added an option for users to check whether an accommodation has already been booked on another rental platform.

Feedback

To make the rental platform more interactive and improve the customer experience, we added a feedback feature by integrating Trustpilot. Trustpilot is a tool that allows customers to rate services and leave reviews. 

By adding the feedback feature, we made it possible not only to get honest customer reviews but to also receive relevant data about the project, which provides us with feedback for future improvements.

Collaboration page

The Sloboda Studio’s team also created a base for a future referral system.

While registering on the platform, new customers can recommend owners who have accommodations to rent. If these owners then join the platform and start renting out their apartments, the recommending customer receives a bonus.

Referral system

Our team made a ramified referral system where users could create and send an invitation link to join the platform. This link makes it possible to receive both credit notes on the platform or get real cash rewards if the owner invites another owner to the system.

Apartment filters

In order to make it easier for guests to find their desired accommodations, we also improved the search feature with additional filters. Now it is possible to filter search results by such criteria as the type of apartment, the number of rooms, and additional options like parking, Wi-Fi, etc.

Booking cancellation and money flow

We have implemented the function users can cancel their bookings three times for free, regardless of the date of booking, as well as cancellation of booking with minimal monetary losses. 

An important feature of the new booking cancellation function is the ability to choose the money withdrawal type – either transfer to internal credit notes or to the personal bank card.

Рayment system

Our team’s task was to optimize a complex payment system with a multi-currency flow. We connected the platform to a Stripe account and fixed the existing Stripe code to exclude miscalculations in payment.

In order to create the most comfortable payment conditions for users, automatic currency conversion was created with the help of a library working with the Central Bank. 

payment rental property marketplace

Payment Page

 

Users can cancel three bookings for free, the fourth try will cost 15% of the total rental cost. The closer the check-in time is, the more the deduction will be charged when canceling.

Our team has also created a prepayment function, making it possible to pay 50% of the rental price 90 days before the start of the lease.

Integration with Hostaway and Wheelhouse

First, we have integrated Hostaway into a rental platform. Hostaway is a cloud hotel management system and a channel manager that integrates with popular rental marketplaces such as Airbnb, HomeAway, Booking.com, Expedia, TripAdvisor, and many other property owners.

Then, we connected Hostaway to Wheelhouse. Their combination helped optimize both pricing and distribution strategy. This means that the platform’s clients will receive the most favorable price recommendations.

Platform optimization

It was necessary to optimize the page speed and server performance as much as possible since the load time affected customers’ bounce rate.

Our team improved the page and server performance by:

  • updating a server  
  • reducing and compressing images, which allowed them to load 3 seconds faster
  • optimizing back-end code 

 

As a result, the platform performance has increased by 90%.

Challenges
Lack of documentation

When we met our client, the project was already in its MVP stage. Unfortunately, though, there wasn’t documentation about the platform’s functions. This issue slowed down the development process, as our developers needed to figure out how the existing features were developed before improving them and then creating the new functionality.

Additionally, the project was based on a custom library. In this case, starting development without documentation could have resulted in data loss, as well as time and budget overruns.

 

Our Solution:

We contacted the previous development team to dive into the details about the project’s crucial features (including the custom library functions). After some time, we were able to adapt this customized code and create new project functionality, now written with commonlyused technologies like Ruby on Rails and React.

 

Calendar integration

As previously mentioned, the platform uses two calendars to make the process of choosing accommodation more convenient for its customers:

  • A large calendar was implemented as a separate feature where experts could view and change prices and booking dates
  • A small pop-up calendar that customers can use to review accommodation ads (this appears when setting a time this was developed as a separate plugin).

 

The core challenge was in the necessity to customize the large calendar and to make both calendars work in coordination with each other. The customization was done because existing ready-made solutions were not customizable enough for the required functionality.

 

Our solution:

Our solution was to customize the calendar feature. We chose the React Big Calendar and thus updated the platform calendars.

Multi-currency flow

It was necessary to build a multi-currency flow function so that users from different countries, where there is a two-currency system could pay, and make a refund on the platform.

 

Our solution: 

For well-regulated automatic multi-currency flow and exchange, it was important to adjust the rate of the central bank. Our team used Exchangerates.api library to convert currencies and transfer to the platform credit notes or make a money withdrawal.

Lack of security

The issue was that the platform was minimally protected from third-party influences.

 

Our solution: 

Our team updated the dependencies and, and created an authorization system.

Results:

As a result of our collaboration, the rental platform is now upgraded with features such as:

  • Admin panel
  • Messages and Email functions 
  • Calendar
  • Map
  • Apartment creation
  • Feedback
  • Collaboration page
  • Apartment filters
  • Booking cancellation
  • Payment feature
  • Integration with Stripe
  • Multicurrency
  • Integration with Hostaway and Wheelhouse
  • Discounts
  • Referral system

 

Moreover, the Sloboda Studio team assisted the platform with code improvement and maintenance.

Having fixed the major bugs and expanded the core functionality, Sloboda Studio made the rental platform more secure, user-friendly, and seamless.

As a result of our cooperation, the platform performance increased by 90%. 

Our process
Timeline:

February 2020 - October 2021

Team:
3 back-end developers, 2 front-end developers, 1 QA, 1 PM
Technologies we used
Server-side
PostgreSQL
Ruby
Ruby on Rails
Client-side
jQuery
React
Tools (hosting, monitoring etc.)
AWS
Docker
Integrations

Hostaway

MailChimp

New Relic

Stripe

Wheelhouse

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    Alex, Project Lead
    Alex, Project Lead


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